No. 6 Bears Win Atlantic Coast Championship

No. 6 Bears Win Atlantic Coast Championship

NORFOLK, Va.—The coed sailing team will enter the off-season as champions after winning the Atlantic Coast Championship for the first time in program history. The Bears came from behind in dramatic fashion to pass local rivals Yale University in the final two races of the regatta.

Eighteen teams from the East Coast, sixteen of which are ranked in the top-20 in the nation, descended upon Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA, this year's host of the fall season's culminating event. Each team had previously qualified through their conference's fall championship for the right to compete for the Atlantic Coast Championship.

Competitors were treated to perfect conditions on day one of the championship with wind out of the west-northwest ranging from 12-18 knots. Coast Guard started strong, posting multiple top-5 finishes in the first several races, and got out to an early lead after four races in each division.

Yale found their stride in the next four races in each division, posting all top-10 finishes. At the end of the day on Saturday, the Bulldogs had opened up a fifteen point lead over the Bears, with the Georgetown Hoyas not far behind in third.

On Sunday the breeze failed to develop until the afternoon, forcing the race committee to wait until 1:00 to start the first race. The remaining two races in each division were sailed in a very light and shifty southwesterly with tricky current across the racecourse.

In races 9A and 10A, Coast Guard's Avery Fanning and Robert Turley finished 10th and 6th while Yale's Ian Barrows and Natalya Doris finished 16th and 12th, which closed the gap to only three points going into the final B-Division Races. Nikole Barnes and Anna Morin won race 9B for the Bears, putting another nine points on Mitchell Kiss and Clara Robertson who were sailing for Yale.

In the final race, both Kiss/Robertson and Barnes/Morin struggled in the early stages, but Yale was able to gain several boats by the first mark and sat ten points ahead of Coast Guard. Gradually the Bears were able to pass boats one at a time while Yale allowed several to pass them. Yale crossed the finish line in 11th with Coast Guard right behind them in 12th, sealing the victory for the Bears.

"Our sailors' ability to close this event with the regatta on the line was impressive and fun to watch," commented head coach Brian Swingly. "We are extremely proud to have won this championship for the Academy and have our sights set high for the spring season."

Avery Fanning and Robert Turley finished third in A-Division with 62 points and only two races outside of the top-10.  Nikole Barnes, Andrew Britton, and Anna Morin won B-Division with 65 points. Coast Guard won the 2015 Coed Atlantic Coast Championship with 127 points. Yale finished second with 132 and Georgetown hung onto third with 139.

With the win, the Bears complete one of the most successful fall seasons in recent memory. The coed team's season was highlighted with wins at the Harry Anderson Trophy and the Danmark Trophy, a fourth place finish at the NEISA Fall Championship, and now a victory at the Atlantic Coast Championship. The women's team also won three Interconference regattas: the Mrs. Hurst Bowl, the Yale Women's Interconference, and the Stu Nelson Trophy.

"It's been a really great fall for our team and we are happy with our progress at the mid point of the year," Swingly added. "We will be sure to use this momentum to motivate us in the gym and classroom during the offseason."